Tips for privacy, communication while living in the dorms

photo of a dorm room
Vanessa Lim/Senior Staff

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For many of us, moving to college meant sharing a space that is smaller than the bedroom we were used to at home. College meant suddenly sharing a closet, a shower and much more. Here are some ways that you can establish some privacy when it feels like everything in your life is shared. 

Agree on shared and personal possessions 

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to notify roommates about what’s personal property. Don’t assume that you and your roommate have the same ideas about what’s shared and what isn’t. Also, it’s perfectly okay to change your mind over the course of the semester, as along as you don’t blame your roommates for not knowing. Being open with your roommates is really beneficial in the long run since it ensures that you’re always comfortable in your room.

Arrange the room for privacy 

This isn’t possible for a lot of people, including me, but I’ve seen some people rearranging their rooms to try and cultivate a sense of privacy. Whether this means repositioning your desk, adding some dividers or simply putting up a few pillows, you can probably find a way to create your own little safe space. My roommate, for example, created her own hiding spot by using a blanket to cover the upper edge of her bunk bed, and it works pretty well! When I walk into the room, I can’t actually tell if she’s in there or not.

Noise-canceling headphones 

Sometimes, privacy in your dorm room means putting on some headphones and listening to your favorite tunes. Investing in the right pair of headphones can help ease the pain of being away from home for so long by allowing you to create your own little world to escape into.

Set boundaries 

You want to foster an environment where you feel comfortable telling your roommates, “I don’t really want to talk right now, I’d rather be alone.” In my case, my roommates understand that when I put my headphones on, it’s because I don’t really want to chat. This allows me to be straightforward about my needs, rather than brooding over what irritates me. At the end of the day, communication is the key to a harmonious and conflict-free relationship with roommates.

Take advantage of the libraries

If you’re looking for a private place to work, some of the libraries around campus set up dividers between their desks. In general, though, I love going to any library when I need a quiet place to study by myself, without any interruptions.

Get out of the dorm when possible and explore campus

At the end of the day, campus will become your home away from home, not your dorm room. Since coming here, I’ve tried to make the most of the beautiful campus, whether that be by going on walks or simply finding a little spot in some corner of campus to enjoy a meal.

Hanging out in the lounges or study rooms when they’re empty 

In the early mornings, I love hanging out in the common lounge of my residence hall and calling my friends and family. It’s always completely empty, giving me a quiet and comfortable place to have some time to myself. 

Wake up early 

In the early mornings, everything is always quieter and calmer. There’s no hustle and bustle, and most libraries and coffee shops are still pretty empty. Or, if you choose to stay in your dorm room, getting up early allows you to get a head start on some of the work for the day and enjoy the silence for a while.

Being away from home for the first time can be difficult, especially if you feel like your entire life is suddenly on display. That’s why it’s important for roommates to establish their own set of social, emotional and individual resources.

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].